Drake's senior class hoists the program's first MVC Tournament trophy after the Bulldogs's 2-1 victory over Evansville on Sunday.
The Drake Athletic Department will host an NCAA Soccer Tournament Watch Party at 4:30 p.m. today (Monday, Nov. 16) at Jethro's BBQ, where the Bulldogs find out who they will be playing in the upcoming first round of the NCAA Tournament. First-round games begin on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Members of the Drake soccer team will be on hand to greet the public while watching the pairings announced live on ESPNNEWS. Jethro's is located at 3102 Forest Ave.
Drake earned its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament after beating Evansville, 2-1, Sunday to win the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the first time.
The win was 12 years in the making for Head Coach Sean Holmes, who by virtue of the Bulldogs' triumph had registered his 100th career coaching victory at Drake and, more importantly, had collected the school's first automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
- Calvin Clark (Overland Park, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas)
- Julien Edwards (Ottawa, Ont./De La Salle)
- Brian Wurst (Kansas City, Mo./Park Hill South)
- Kevin Shrout (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit)
- Garrett Webb (Prairie Village, Kan./Shawnee Mission East)
- Luke Gorczyca (Overland Park, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas)
"This is one of the happiest days of my life, but more than anything, I'm excited for the seniors," Holmes said. "Those guys have had a sense of purpose and destiny almost since the day they arrived -- and for their dreams to be fulfilled is pretty special."
The entire team and coaching staff gather around the trophy after Sunday's victory.
A testament to the Bulldogs' starting defensive backline of Clark,
Edwards and Wurst along with sophomore Thomas Ostrander (Fort Dodge,
Iowa/St. Edmond Catholic) was their resolve as their efforts were the
cornerstone to Drake's efforts in securing the victory.
Ostrander was elevated into a starting assignment for junior
starter Nick Foster (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley), who was forced to
miss the game due to a post-match extra-curricular incident following
Drake's 3-1 victory over Creighton on Friday (Nov. 13), and he
Redshirt junior Michael Drozd (Harwood Heights, Ill./Loyola
Academy) was equally impressive in net recording seven saves, including
several spectacular stops, to go along with a pair of critical team
"There were some plays I didn't even know I pulled off but our
defenders and team played very well," Drozd said. "We played extremely
well in the second half and really proved we are one of the best teams
in the Midwest."
The Bulldogs began the scoring in the affair in the 27th minute
(26:29) when redshirt sophomore Michael Noonan (Cedar Rapids,
Iowa/Xavier) fired a shot from outside the top of the box that floated
like a perfect knuckleball past Evansville goalkeeper Phil Boerger to
give Drake a 1-0 lead. A short touch pass from sophomore Hunter Kennedy
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Washington) provided the assist on Noonan's fourth
goal of the season.
"Noonan's shot was a piece of magic," Holmes said.
The Purple Aces squared the affair at one at the 31:35 mark when
Mike Luttrull fired a shot inside the 18 off passes from Tad
Kreamalmeyer and Robby Lynch.
The game-winning tally came after Evansville was whistled for a
trip just outside the right of the box, setting up a free kick by Kevin
Shrout. Converting on the opportunity, Shrout fired a shot that bended
through and deflected off the Evansville defense into the net for his
third goal on the campaign.
"It was a spot to drive it low and hard and make something happen,
like a deflection," Shrout said. "Fortunately, something happened, but
I knew we still had a lot of work to do to close out the match."
The score held up through staunch defensive play by the Bulldogs
the rest of the half as Drake had earned its way into the field of 48
in the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't think it was the best game we ever played, but it was the most resolve that we've ever shown," Holmes said.
"The guys were at home, they were on national television, we hadn't
done particularly well the first time we played them and we responded.
Evansville did a really good job today as they were one of two or three
teams this year that presented with a real problem."
Clark was named as the tournament Most Valuable Player and Webb, Edwards and Shrout joined him on the all-tournament team.